Chapter 10: The Lure of the Infinite
Veda does not mean only the four books of the Hindus; rather it means the words of the sages, of all who have known. The word veda is derived from vid which means to know. It refers to the words of those who have known - the Buddhas, the Jainas, the rishis, just as the original Vedas, the Rig Veda, the Atharv Veda, etcetera, were the words of ancient rishis, people who have known. Whenever a person attains, knows, his words become Vedas, as will your words when you arrive. There is no limit to Vedas; the words of all those who have known in the past, all those who know today and all those who shall know in the future, are Vedas. Vedas are the quintessence of knowledge, of truth.
Nanak says: “The Vedas declare that all those who set out in search ultimately give up, exhausted and frustrated.” It is important to understand this, because exhaustion and fatigue bear great importance in the life of the seeker. You will not be prepared to annihilate yourself until you are completely drained and depleted from exhaustion. The time comes finally when you realize that all your efforts are meaningless, that whatever you try to do you know that nothing will come of it. When your attitude of doing reaches the last stages and you realize the uselessness of whatever you do, whatever you find, whatever you attain turns out to be meaningless. Desire goads you on but even success proves flat and useless. Then you are filled with deep sadness and melancholy because all the endeavors turned to nothing. This is the point you must reach before you can let go of your ego; not before that.
How could you let go as long as there is still the hope of attaining something - either a little more effort and it will happen, or the direction is wrong, so you change the method or the guru, and abandon temple for mosque, or church for gurudwara. Until you are completely exhausted and thoroughly frustrated, until your dejection is complete, you cannot let go of the ego.
Buddha searched for six long years. Perhaps never has a human being approached the guest with such intensity. He staked his all in each trial. Whatever he was told he did to the last dot. No guru could say that he was lacking in effort or resolve.
One guru told him to eat only one grain of rice per day for three months. Buddha carried out his instructions. He was reduced to skin and bone, his back and abdomen became one; he could hardly breathe he was so weak. Yet he did not attain knowledge, because knowledge is never attained by doing anything.
Buddha did all that he was told, but the sense of I-ness persisted. He undertook fasts, repeated endless mantra, did penance, worked diligently at other practices, but deep within the subtle ego kept repeating: I am doing it. The fist was closed, the I was present.